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Have you ever wondered what sets apart an overachieving Account Executive (AE) from an average Joe? Why do they struggle to perform at their peak in spite of hitting their quota to a large extent?

Well, it has less to do with the AE’s skills and abilities to make a sale and more to do with their inability to engage prospects beyond the usual follow-ups. The 2017 TOPO (now Gartner) Sales Development Technology Benchmark Report, highlights how sales engagement is overwhelmingly named by 90% of sales leaders as their top priority.

It is thus a no-brainer why sales leaders across the globe invest in sales engagement tools and methodologies. They see it as the only answer to convert cold prospects into Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), that turn into Sales Accepted Leads (SALs) and eventually transform into Closed-Won customers.

From enterprises to mid-market to small and midsize businesses (SMBs), organizations of all shapes and sizes have now realized how crucial it is to leverage sales engagement. It is an operating philosophy that not only results in an increased customer base but also helps:

  • Align both marketing and sales teams
  • Improve the transparency of interlinked processes
  • Drive predictability like never before

Sales engagement, in its true essence, is not a sprint but a marathon. And growing businesses are willing to partake in it to sustain outcomes in the ever-evolving business climate with varying buyer expectations.

So, what on earth is Sales Engagement?

Simply put, sales engagement refers to the amalgamation of all activities that take place between the prospect and the seller throughout the sales cycle. Historically these activities are measured as time vs multiple touchpoints such as emails, calls, demos, product evaluation, contracting, and finally having the customer on board.

As evident from the above chart, the number of touchpoints increases with time, until the final stage of closed-won or closed-lost is reached. An average sales cycle typically lasts anywhere between 4-6 months and the time and touchpoints only keep going up based on the product/industry/buyer and ticket size.

With AEs investing so much time in chasing their prospects across multiple touchpoints, it is only imperative for them to use the right sales engagement approach to increase their win rate and consistently overachieve. Failure to do so can leave them looking at the whole process as an uphill battle as they relentlessly chase their next big customer. And the proof is in the pudding with Gallup's State of the American Consumer Report. It states that companies that successfully engage customers perform 23% better than their competitors, report 63% lower customer attrition, and achieve 55% higher wallet share.

Has all this got you thinking about how you should leverage engagement in the right way, to boost sales at your organization? Well, worry not, we've got you covered. Filtering the crux from the noise, here are 6 ways in which sales engagement improves sales.

Leverages sales enablement initiatives

  • Invest in sales coaching/ training
  • Craft the right content that they can use to entice buyers
  • Inculcate best practices
  • Invest in various tools
  • Provide salespeople with all the resources they need to engage their target buyers

Top 6 Ways to Boost Sales Using Sales Engagement 

1. Leverages Sales Enablement Initiatives

Sales Enablement is another buzzword doing circles and it’s often misconstrued to be sales engagement. But there’s more than just a strikingly stark difference between the two.

  • Sales enablement refers to the gamut of initiatives that empower reps to do more and be more.
  • Sales engagement on the other hand, focuses on the various touchpoints that the prospect and the AE go through during the sales process.

In the grand scheme of things, it can be said that sales engagement is a subset of sales enablement and the right way to nail engagement is to start with its enablement.

Without an intent to invest in sales enablement holistically, sales engagement can turn out to be half-baked and not generate the desired impact and results. Hence, it is important for businesses to prioritize AEs’ overall enablement, including but not limited to the following initiatives:

  • Invest in sales coaching/ training
  • Craft the right content that they can use to entice buyers
  • Inculcate best practices
  • Invest in various tools
  • Provide salespeople with all the resources they need to engage their target buyers

As shown above, sales engagement forms the centerpiece of various enablement initiatives and leverages them to drive high-quality engagement. Whether it is showing the right content or delivering a great pitch or shooting the right email at the right time, sales engagement empowers reps to outplay consistently.

2. Personalizes the Buyer’s Journey 

No two buyers are made alike (even if they are Siamese twins!) and hence a one-size-fits-all approach to engaging prospects doesn’t work anymore. Gone are the days when email used to be the only tool available to engage prospects outside face-to-face (F2F) meetings.

The average consumer today is spread across at least 3 or more communication channels such as email, LinkedIn, call, and messaging apps among others. Thus, sticking to just one or a finite few channels invariably leaves you behind in the race.

Embracing technology through a sales engagement platform (SEP) such as Outplay alleviates the AEs’ burden of investing time and effort across all channels individually. AEs and SDRs don’t have to go through the pain of jumping from one system to another in order to engage prospects.

They have the advantage of not just automating multiple transactions like emails, messages, etc., across channels but also tailoring custom engagement strategies and prospects across industries. Hyper personalization is very much possible with a robust SEP and such an approach ensures buyers see, hear, and feel what they need to in order to make an informed purchasing decision.

As seen from Aragon Research’s diagram above, a SEP integrates with various other tools and communication channels that are a part of the marketing and sales stack in order to unify all touchpoints and become the one-stop shop for all things engagement. With so much data being fed into a SEP, sales leaders also have the unfair advantage of deriving custom analytics that can help in decision making and promote guided selling backed by data and insights.
3. Drives brand recall, signups, and referrals

‘Out of sight = Out of mind’ and nothing is more damaging than a poor or non-existent sales engagement strategy. This is more true in these trying Covid times where the world is living remotely and getting the mind-share of your ideal buyer has become more challenging than ever before. Your offering could cater to a particular niche or be mainstream with cut-throat competition. Whichever the type, the buyers today are bombarded with a lot of promotions to a point where it almost knocks them out into a frenzy of decision paralysis.

In a world filled with so much noise, the right engagement strategy helps build authenticity and most importantly drives brand recall, inbound signups, and even referrals. Thus helping the prospect differentiate you from the rest of the competition.

It is important to note that sales engagement does not end with a Closed-Won or Closed-Lost sales stage but is rather perennial in nature. As a result, even a lost customer if engaged well can always circle back at the right time of need or refer potential buyers from his network.

Brand recall is not easy and it cannot be built in a day, month, or even a year. The most popular brands in the world spend consistent time, effort, and money in driving their message right by always engaging customers. The right kind of engagement implemented consistently over a long enough timeline eventually becomes a superpower. It has the ability to generate a pull effect and have the market gravitate towards your brand.

4. Makes time for AEs to ABC

Remember Alec Baldwin from "Glengarry Glen Ross”? This infamous adaptation of the Pulitzer prize-winning play took the world of sales by storm and emphasized the single most important thing sales representatives need to care about: “Always Be Closing”. While the world has come a long way from the aggressive ABC approach the movie preaches, it can be a really good aspiration for AEs to outplay their targets.

A 2018 study by CSO Insights, indicated that successful salespeople spent, at most, 35% of their time actually selling or "closing" deals. So the real question is where is the rest of 65% of an AE’s time going? The research found that lead generation, customer follow-up, strategy and planning, and other administrative tasks comprised the lion's share of their time.  

While sales engagement cannot really replace all the tasks, some of the most repetitive and impactful tasks such as follow-ups over email or WhatsApp, sharing the latest case study, and inviting prospects to an upcoming webinar can be seamlessly automated by a Sales Engagement Platform (SEP). With a SEP the time spent in chasing buyers across channels can be invested in selling or prospecting which is a direct contributor to revenue.

5. Predicts Revenue

Popular management guru Peter Drucker once said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” A very prominent metric that almost all AEs and sales teams tend to overlook is the level of engagement their prospect is exhibiting.  It’s a no-brainer that an engaged prospect has a very high probability of buying as opposed to a disengaged prospect. Tracking key metrics such as response rate, open rate, no of meetings, no. of touchpoints, signups and events attended among others leads you to arrive at a holistic engagement score. This in turn acts as a lead indicator of revenue.

Sales leaders who spend time reviewing pipelines every week can get their predictability game right by factoring a certain weightage to deals that exhibit a high engagement level. This ensures the high accuracy of revenue prediction and also helps employ corrective measures before it’s too late. Measuring predictability solely based on AE’s inputs and deal movement across stages without factoring in engagement is a rudimentary approach that can never evolve beyond a point.

6. Align sales and Marketing Teams

Marketing teams owing to their own evolution, often end up working in silos, forming notions of the ideal buyer that may not entirely be true. This could lead to them totally discounting the AE’s view of the ideal buyer. On the flip side, most times sales teams don’t find marketing initiatives aligned to their revenue goals, and should a bad year happen, you’d find both of them at each other’s necks!

While there are umpteen ways and reasons to align both teams, having sales engagement goals will invariably bring them together. The alignment can only be successfully orchestrated when both teams are aligned on a common vision. All marketing initiatives can be an outcome of the sales team’s feedback which in turn is a function of what the ideal buyer needs.  The three gears as indicated in the above diagram, when working together in total alignment increase sales for the organization and help scale the business.

Boost your Sales Engagement by Leveraging Outplay

Closing a deal, making a sale, and boosting revenue are as important for a small business as it is for a big conglomerate. In this ever-evolving world, the competition is only getting tough, and successfully leveraging sales engagement is the only way to improve your sales.

Now that you know the best practices to boost your sales, how about automating the process to empower your AEs? Yes, I am talking about using a Sales Engagement Platform. 

Find out more about SEPs here and if you are looking for a hands-on experience in using one, then what better than a short demo of Outplay? Click here to experience our powerful tool.

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